A Bun in the Oven: Joy for the Queen’s Quickening

Jane Seymour vigil

Nearly a year after Jane Seymour and Henry VIII were married, her first and only pregnancy was announced to the realm.

According to the Wriothesley Chronicle:

“The 27th of May 1537, being Trinity Sunday, there was Te Deum sung for joy of the Queen’s quickening, my lord chancellor, lord of the privy seal, with diverse other lords and bishops being then present; all gave loud praise to God for joy of the same; the Bishop of Worcester made an oration before all the lords and commons after Te Deum was song, showing the cause of their assembly, which orations were marvelous to the spectators; also the same night diverse great bonfires were lit in London, and a hogshead of wine at every fire for poor people to drink as long as it would last. I pray Jesus that he sends us a Prince.”

Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein the Younger
Jane Seymour by Hans Holbein the Younger.

Unlike Henry VIII’s previous queens, she took a non-political role, although she did try to influence him during the Pilgrimage of Grace. Henry’s response to her was to remind her of her predecessor, Anne Boleyn. A veiled threat that Jane took to heart as she came to focus more on domestic matters and other duties expected out of queen consorts.

Jane Seymour gave birth to Henry’s only legitimate male heir to outlive him on the 12th of October. He was named Edward after both their common ancestor and Henry VIII’s maternal grandfather, Edward III and Edward IV respectively. It was a long birth that took more than two days but when her son was finally born, everyone celebrated. Among his godparents was his eldest half-sister, Lady Mary Tudor, Henry VIII’s eldest daughter whom Jane Seymour had grown very close to. His other half-sister, Lady Elizabeth Tudor was also present for the christening.

Jane Seymour burial collage

Jane seemed to be better during this time but days after she suffered a relapse. She died on the 24th, twelve days after she had given birth to Edward. The cause of her death was puerperal fever, better known as childbed fever, ironically the same illness that had taken Henry’s mother, Elizabeth of York. Like the first Tudor royal consort, Jane Seymour was idolized by Henry and before he died, it was his intention to build a glorious monument for the both of them but his wishes were never carried out. He was buried next to her in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

It has been theorized by historian Elizabeth Norton who wrote a biography of her that if she had lived, she would have gone on to have a more prominent role in politics, albeit not one as direct as Anne or Katherine, but one that would have allowed her to be more outspoken given that she had already provided Henry with what he needed the most to secure the Tudor Dynasty: a male heir.

Sources:

  • Lisle, Leanda. Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, Murder. The Story of England’s Most Notorious Royal Family. Public Affairs. 2013.
  • Norton, Elizabeth. Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s True Love. Amberly 2011.
  • Loades, David. Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s Favourite Wife. Amberly. 2014.

 

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